Steven Stamkos takes light contact in practice, nearing return

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Steven Stamkos took some light contact in practice Saturday. (USATSI)
Steven Stamkos took some light contact in practice Saturday. (USATSI)

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The dramatic recovery of Steven Stamkos took another positive step Saturday morning as the Tampa Bay Lightning star began taking light contact in practice. After breaking his right tibia on Nov. 11, Stamkos' road to recovery may be even ahead of where he thought it would be at this point.

He took a few bumps from Martin St. Louis along the boards during Tampa's morning skate ahead of the Lightning's game against the Colorado Avalanche.

Stamkos spoke about his progress with the Tampa Times:

"I'm very pleased with how the bone is healing," Stamkos said. "I think it's pretty close to a point where it comes down to how I'm feeling out there."

Stamkos' x-rays revealed enough bone formation where the leg is stable, and while there's some soft tissue pain, he's felt good each time he's tested it further, including doing more jumping in the gym Thursday night.

Stamkos said the extra time he's put on the ice has helped with his conditioning, though admits when he gets back "it'll feel like the start of the year again." There will be another x-ray taken in a couple weeks, at the 12-week point, which he believes will be more for "mental purposes."

This is obviously good news for the Lightning and Team Canada as Stamkos could be nearing his return to game action. He was named to the Canadian Olympic team somewhat optimistically as his progress from the injury looked favorable for a pre-Sochi return to the Lightning lineup.

With the way things have progressed, it seems Stamkos will be ready in time for the Olympics.

Once Stamkos goes from light contact to full contact in practice, it should mean his return to game action is imminent.

The jokes about Stamkos being a cyborg with such quick recovery from a serious injury might be less funny at this point, mainly because they sound true. You have to credit Stamkos for his commitment to the rehabilitation. There probably aren't many people on the planet that could do what he's done over the last 11 weeks.

Before his injury, Stamkos was off to one of the best starts of his career. He had 14 goals and 23 points in 17 games.

Stamkos might not be able to pick up exactly where he left off, but he should be a huge boost to a Lightning squad that has managed just fine without him, surprisingly enough.

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